The Price Of A Nation

The first Passover, in Egypt, climaxed a series of catastrophes that brought Israel out from a position as scapegoat and into one of uniqueness. For years, the surrounding nations had watched the Hebrews struggle to survive under cruel Egyptian leadership. Indeed, what could anyone do against their powerful gods? But then, at Passover the nations witnessed something extraordinary. Without human help, the Egyptian yoke was broken and Israel was freed. Despite flexing every muscle to keep them enslaved, the Pharaoh and his wise men were no match for the God of Israel. The nations saw the might and glory of Egypt collapse while Israel emerged a new nation, a people redeemed – the people of God – it was Passover.

The devastation began with the declaration to Pharaoh, the King of Egypt, "Israel is my son, my first-born. So I say to you, let my son go that he may serve me. But if you refuse to let him go, indeed, I will kill your son, your first-born." (Exodus 4:22). And while miracles followed to affirm this truth, it was at Passover, when God sent the Angel of Death, that Israel's unique position began to emerge.

The Angel of Death killed every first-born in Egypt, with the exception of those who had sheltered under the protection of the blood of the Passover lamb. "And when I see the blood, I will pass over you; and the plague shall not be on you to destroy you when I strike the land of Egypt . . . And it came to pass at midnight that the LORD struck all the first-born in the land of Egypt . . . " (Exodus 12:13, 29)

Passover set apart the Hebrew people, as the people of God. Every saved first-born was under the protection of the blood of the Passover lamb. The Almighty redeemed Israel. For the first time, the nations witnessed the special relationship between Israel and the Eternal. Israel was not like the other nations. Israel was God's first-born, His son. No other nation could claim this title. Israel stood alone.

The first-born of God journeyed to Mt Sinai, where He revealed the means by which the nations would come to a knowledge of His redemption. Israel received His law and the plans for the Tabernacle. Israel would keep His law and covenants. The Eternal would live among them, in the Tabernacle. While His law required them to be holy at all times, the Tabernacle provided the way of approach through which they could have access to Him.

The Law taught that God could not be approached by a sinner. However, the Tabernacle taught that sin could be atoned for, thus, making the sinner acceptable. Significantly, just as the blood of the Passover lamb saved the first-born, from the Angel of Death in Egypt, so too, the blood of the animal sacrificed in the Tabernacle was able to redeem.

In Egypt, the blood of the Passover lamb purchased the first-born. Covered by the blood, Israel was redeemed by God and brought into His refuge for safekeeping. Israel was made acceptable in God's sight by the blood of the lamb, because the blood turned away death. The death of the lamb was a substitute for the death of the firstborn. God accepted them because the blood atoned for their souls.

The Tabernacle confirmed that this was the means of approach and intimacy with God. "For the life of the flesh is in the blood, and I have given it to you upon the altar to make atonement for your souls; for it is the blood that makes atonement for the soul." (Leviticus 17:11) This is a significant point for the nations to understand, since sin is common to everyone. The Eternal, however, provided the way of access – atonement through the blood.

The importance of such a sacrifice was highlighted each year when the people of Israel celebrated Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement. Each year, on this day, the High Priest would enter the Holy of Holies, the inner sanctum of the Tabernacle, and later the Temple, to make atonement for the sins of the people. Every year, the blood of the animals sacrificed would atone for Israel's sins.

The prophet, Jeremiah spoke of a future day when Israel would no longer need to make atonement.

"'Behold, the days are coming,' says the LORD, 'when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah – not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day that I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt, my covenant which they broke, though I was a husband to them,' says the LORD.

'But this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel: after those days, says the LORD, I will put my law in their minds, and write it on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people.

'No more shall every man teach his neighbour, and every man his brother, saying, "Know the LORD," for they all shall know me, from the least of them to the greatest of them,' says the LORD.

'For I will forgive their iniquity, and their sin I will remember no more.'" (Jeremiah 31:31-34)

Just as Israel had been redeemed by the blood of the Passover lamb, in Egypt, so too, Israel will be redeemed by the new covenant. Rather than being a stubborn and stiff-necked people, Israel will be renewed and will respond because the LORD will give them a new mind and a new heart.

The new covenant will make it possible for Israel to obey, because " . . . I will put my law in their minds, and write it on their hearts . . . " .

Another important feature of the new covenant is that it will include atonement for sin. "For I will forgive their iniquity, and their sin I will remember no more." Because atonement by the blood has been the foundation since the nation's birth at the first Passover in Egypt, how would God ratify His promise to forgive their iniquity and sin? What blood atonement would be required to confirm the new covenant with Israel?

The prophet Isaiah proclaimed One would come. "Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted. But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement for our peace was upon him, and by his stripes we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned, every one, to his own way; and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all." (Isaiah 53:4-6)

Then, "When the hour had come, he sat down, and the twelve apostles with him. Then he said to them, 'With fervent desire I have desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer; for I say to you, I will no longer eat of it until it is fulfilled in the kingdom of God.' Then he took the cup, and gave thanks, and said, 'Take this and divide it among yourselves; for I say to you, I will not drink of the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes.' And he took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, 'This is my body which is given for you; do this in remembrance of me.' Likewise he also took the cup after supper, saying, 'This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which is shed for you.'" (Luke 22:14-20)

Yeshua the Messiah, the Redeemer Himself, is the acceptable sacrifice. His blood has provided the atonement for sin.

This was also confirmed by Yochanan, son of Zechariah, who was baptizing in the Jordan. He was preaching repentance in preparation for the Coming One. Many Jews came to be baptized indicating their readiness for the Messiah's arrival. When Yochanan saw Yeshua he testified, "Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!" (John 1:29)

When God presented His firstborn, Israel, He did it through the blood of the Passover Lamb. Israel emerged from Egypt, a new nation, redeemed by the blood, which provided them protection from the Angel of Death.

When God brought forth the Messiah, He presented Him as His only begotten Son, and the One who was the Passover Lamb of God. "For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have everlasting life. (John 3:16) It is the life blood of Messiah, that has ratified the new covenant. The Messiah's blood atones for sin and provides eternal life for all who believe and who are under His protection.

"Then Jesus (Yeshua) said to them, 'Most assuredly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day. For my flesh is food indeed, and my blood is drink indeed. He who eats my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me, and I in him. As the living Father sent me, and I live because of the Father, so he who feeds on me will live because of me. This is the bread which came down from heaven – not as your fathers ate the manna, and are dead. He who eats this bread will live forever." (John 6:53-58)